In today’s rapidly advancing technological world, the gap between academic learning and industry requirements in the information technology (IT) sector is not just a challenge but a critical barrier to progress.
For years, a persistent narrative within the industry has revolved around the widening chasm between the skills taught in academia and those demanded by the rapidly evolving IT sector. This disparity has been a constant topic of discussion among my industry peers and me.
For almost as long as I have been working, I have been hearing over and over again of the skills gap between industry and academe. My industry peers and I rant every year about never being able to fill all our requirements for high-paying IT jobs. Yet, we are forced to reject over 95% (by my own estimates) of applicants, because they don’t have the skills needed for the work we do.
Recognizing this critical need, SkillsFuture SG, the skills development agency of the Singapore Government, has pioneered an exemplary approach with the development of the Skills Framework. By making this framework open access, SkillsFuture SG has set a precedent for the international community. Their initiative has accelerated the development of national skills frameworks across various countries, serving as a blueprint for aligning skills with industry needs globally.
Our collaborative endeavor with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Thames International, Anderson Tan, and other esteemed participants is a testament to the power of unified efforts in shaping the future of the IT industry. By pooling our diverse expertise and insights, we are laying the foundation for a robust, dynamic, and future-ready professional community.
- Industry-Academia Skills Gap: One of the most critical issues is the disconnect between what is taught in academic institutions and the actual skills needed in the IT industry. This gap results in graduates who are not fully prepared for the demands of the workplace, making it challenging for employers to find candidates with the requisite skills.
- Inconsistent Industry Standards: In the absence of a comprehensive framework, companies often follow varied standards and expectations, leading to inconsistency in job roles, skills requirements, and career progression paths. This inconsistency makes it difficult for professionals to understand what skills and qualifications are valued across the industry.
- Ineffective Curriculum Development: Without a clear understanding of industry needs, educational institutions may struggle to develop curricula that are relevant and up-to-date. This can result in outdated or irrelevant course content that does not equip students with the skills necessary for current and future IT roles.
- Career Uncertainty for Students: Students and their parents face challenges in making informed decisions about education and career paths due to a lack of clear guidance on the skills and qualifications that are in demand in the IT industry.
- Limited Global Competitiveness: The absence of a standardized skills framework can hinder the global competitiveness of IT professionals. It creates challenges in establishing international equivalence for job roles and levels, potentially limiting opportunities for Filipino IT professionals in the global market.
- Difficulty in Talent Retention and Development: According to Philstar, latest data from Jobstreet showed there are about 200,000 vacancies for IT including software, hardware and programmers in the Philippines. “The challenge is that we lack the people. Those who finished tech-related courses are working for principals abroad despite living in the Philippines,” Gioca said. Employers without access to a standardized skills framework may struggle to develop effective talent management strategies. This includes challenges in creating clear career pathways, identifying skills gaps within their teams, and investing in the right training and development programs.
- Reduced Innovation and Productivity: A workforce that is not aligned with current industry standards and practices may lag in innovation and productivity. This misalignment can hinder the adoption of new technologies and methodologies, impacting the overall competitiveness of the IT sector.
In essence, the Skills Framework is an indispensable component in the evolution of the Philippine IT industry. It serves as a roadmap for educational institutions, a guide for students, a resource for IT companies, and a benchmark for international alignment. By bridging gaps and fostering synergies, it stands as a beacon of progress, reskilling, upskilling, and competitiveness in the Philippine IT landscape.
O&B is proud to be part of this ecosystem, where such innovative and collaborative efforts are a driving force towards industry advancement. We are in full support of this initiative, and eager to contribute to the continuing conversation and development of this section in the Philippine Skills Framework.
Together with other contributors to the NSF, through our consulting and training work both domestically and across A, we look towards an only better future.
The author is the chief scientist, founder, and chair of O&B, a local software development firm. This article first appeared in the company’s website.